MONMOUTH – Top-seeded Monmouth withstood a furious final few minutes to defeat No. 5 seeded North Yarmouth Academy 2-1 in a Class C South regional semifinal on Saturday afternoon.

The Mustangs (13-2-2) got goals by Mat Foulke in the first half and a penalty kick tally by Avery Pomerleau in the second. The visiting Panthers (10-5-1) scored with 1:38 left on a goal by Andrew Keith.

After leading 1-0 at the half, Monmouth game out with immediate pressure to start the second 40 minutes of play. Several set pieces led to some scoring chances by Foulke and Pomerleau, including a shot that was saved off the near post.

A run by Pomerleau led to a foul in the penalty box, setting up the Mustangs’ second goal. One of Monmouth’s assistants yelled to Pomerleau that he didn’t have to be fancy, and he wasn’t.

His low shot to the left was not challenged by NYA goalkeeper Connor Clock, who had saved all four previous penalty shots this season.

Monmouth coach Joe Fletcher said he didn’t feel a sense of urgency on the part of NYA after the Mustangs took the two-goal lead with about 19 minutes remaining.

“When they scored their goal, then they realized they had some life and started putting pressure on us,” Fletcher said. “But the clock was our ally at that time.”

The Panthers’ Keith made it a one-goal game after a flurry in front of the net with less than two minutes remaining. Coach Martyn Keen, who is battling esophageal cancer, came out of retirement to lead NYA on Saturday because varsity coach Stuart Thorley was in New York.

“I know Marty is a good coach, but they aren’t coached by him now, and he was in a tough spot,” Fletcher said. “He doesn’t know how they practice or what they were trying to do, but they played well.”

Keen said he was proud of the effort the team gave in a difficult situation. He said they had plenty of chances, but the ball didn’t bounce their way.

“We had the ball in the box a lot of times, but it just didn’t fall to where we could get a clean strike,” Keen said. “It just didn’t roll for us, and they took their chance that we gifted to them.”

In a game played in driving rain for long spurts, one mistake can sometimes be the difference, and it looked like that would be the case for the majority of this contest.

In the first half, NYA couldn’t convert on three consecutive corner kicks. After the third was kept out of the goal, a long clearing pass upfield caused some miscommunication by Panthers’ defenders, which allowed Foulke to streak by and put the ball in the back of the net.

“I knew the first goal could be pivotal and it was a very unfortunate miscommunication between two players,” Keen said. “(Foulke) is a good player and he isn’t going to miss a chance like that.”

Fletcher thought his team’s response to the early pressure, shots and set pieces built momentum for Monmouth on both sides of the ball, and Foulke ultimately cashed in an opportunity.

“They had us on our heels quite a bit, but we weathered the storm,” said Fletcher. “Matty’s the type of player that never gives up, and he showed us why he’s a scrapper today.”

Fletcher said the team got back to playing the way its coached after withstanding the early pressure from the visiting Panthers.

“You hate to lose on one mistake, but sometimes that’s the game,” Fletcher said.

The game was played on the field used by the girls team because the boys field was deemed unplayable. Both coaches had positive things to say about the field conditions, especially since the Monmouth girls hosted a playoff game immediately before this one.

Jason Pafundi — 621-5663

[email protected]

Twitter: @jasonpafundiKJ

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